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Is it real….or Just Fantasy?  Share

 03 September 2010

If you are new to Fantasy Football, you may be surprised to discover that it unfortunately does not require your wife and/or girlfriend to wear pom-poms and a mini-skirt and chase you around the house like you are the star quarterback.  The reality is that it is actually about football, talking smack, and hours of obsession.  It has grown from its rotisserie league days of the 1980’s, where a small group of sports die-hards first conceived the idea at restaurant called La Rotisserie, to become wildly popular with an estimated 25-30 million people playing last year alone.  While fantasy sports were essentially Dungeon’s and Dragons for sports dorks, it is now mainstream, highly developed, and extremely popular.  There are too many variations to cover in one article, so I will focus on the basics.

Most leagues have eight to twelve teams with about fifteen roster spots.  While everything used to be done by hand, nearly all leagues are now automated and run through one of the major sports websites such as Yahoo Sports, etc.  These sites will do the majority of the work for your league, to include all scoring, email alerts, and drafting.  One of the highlights of Fantasy Football is the draft.  This can be as simple or elaborate as your league decides.  Most leagues conduct an on-line draft, but some choose to have a live draft.  A recent trend is for live drafts to be part of a weekend get-away, where the girls are sent shopping and the guys hunker down in a hotel room with an endless supply of beer and dreams of a championship season.  Of course, most will leave the draft way too drunk and upset about their sub-par performance.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to the draft is to keep it simple.  Overanalyzing the players is unlikely to make a big difference in the end.  Next, you need to pick a draft strategy.  Most draft orders are random and follow a snake format.  That means that the person that picks first in the first round will pick last in the second round.  You will have limited roster spots to fill, so it is important to make good picks.  Typically you will have a group of “starters” consisting of a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, a kicker, and a team defense.  One simple strategy is to always pick the best available player, given that you have a roster spot open for his position.  This is easy because most fantasy websites will provide a rank-order list of players to choose from.  This strategy is the easiest to follow, requires the least amount of preparation, and it does not even require that you attend the draft, as the computer will automatically pick players for you in this way if you miss the draft.  Another strategy is to pick key players first.  The scoring potential of players in most leagues is from best to worst: running backs, quarterbacks, receivers, tight ends, kickers, and defense.  This can vary somewhat, but it is a good guideline.  Generally, the more a player touches the ball, the more potential he has to score.  Most leagues give points for yards and touchdowns and some give points for catches as well.


The last priority in the draft is your bench.  Try to pick the best available players but also make sure that you don’t choose a back-up that has the same bye week as your starter, as the primary reason for having a back-up is for bye weeks.  The other reason for back-ups is for injuries.  Because of this, many people choose to “handcuff” their star running back by also drafting his actual back-up.  If there is no injury, then you wasted a roster spot, but if there is at least you will have a suitable replacement.

These are the basics and they will get you through the draft.  Next week I’ll explain how to analyze matchups and how to use the waiver wire.


Bye week:  A week that a team does not play a game.  For example, the NFL season is seventeen weeks long, but teams only play sixteen games because during one of the weeks, they will have a “bye.”

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